Daleks & destruction: The stuff of childhood whimsy

Lines, drawn in a haphazard and rushed fashion, roughly form the sideview outline of a Dalek when connected. No mere drawing of childhood whimsy, this was created as the basis of a overly detailed and rather intense instructional piece instead. Drawn not by a child who is merely filling their hours but rather, one who is hellbent on pretending to be the very space and time terror he drew for Halloween. An idea two years in the making.

Now to those Whovians among you “in the know”, I apologize for my need of explanation to follow (not to mention the explanation itself). And for those of you who have no earthly idea what a Dalek – or a Whovian for that matter – is, then I would highly recommend you break open a book or two and begin culturing yourself. Your education can even start here:

Daleks are the most dreaded, feared and hated enemy of Doctor Who ever to appear on screen. Doctor Who, in turn, is the time-traveling Time Lord created by the BBC to be the main character of a television show by the same name; both to keep the masses entertained, and possibly hoodwinked as to the whole thing being actually based on real events, versus imagined. Admittedly not nearly as cool as the Cybermen, the Daleks still reign supreme in the Whovian universe’s hierarchy of villainy. Personally speaking, I’ve always found them to be a bit irritating. What with their rolling about in a fashion similar to that of an infant captaining a wheeled baby walker, all while in a high-pitched voice incessantly bleating out “Exterminate, exxxxxxtermmmminate!” Screaming as they do, they simply roam space, time and even dimensions in the hopes of destroying every living being that crosses their path, and sometimes they’re quite successful at it. I mean, when they’re not busy serving tea.

And my youngest son wants to be one for Halloween.

Now it’s important to note that my youngest does not, in the normal course of his day, attempt to destroy every living being that he sees (that’s much more his older brother’s “thing”). In fact, if I had to compare him to an average household item, my choice would have to be a feather-stuffed pillow – squeezably comfy, and wonderful to snuggle with, with only the occasional prick. He’s probably the jolliest of the three, and usually the one who tries hard to keep everyone “playing nice.” You may recall he is also prone to forget things. Quite readily, and shortly after they plunk down in his head. And he seems to simply glide through life, most often and quite organically making all the right decisions. But his forget-ability has held no sway in his desire to “Dalek up” this halloween. I too have tried to dissuade him, based on the idea that if this thing does come to life, it will be me doing all the actual engineering to make it so. And let’s just say that I “engineer” about as well as I give birth. But to no avail, he is soldiering on with his plan.

What follows is the actual list of items he feels we’ll be requiring to make this Dalek thing happen, according to his “elements and instructions” sheet, and I’ve left all the spelling in tact:

• Robot Voice Translator – can be found at Vidler’s or Toys R Us • glue • wood • wisk • plunger • telescope • cardbord • ball joints • 2 lightbulbs • pencile • movable seat • 3 wheels • rubber • normal rounded glass • screws • nails • lights to see inside • paint is a given •

When I asked him how all these items were going to be put together, he simply stated “duh, I included nails and screws, daddy!” And the ball joints, what are those for? “They’ll be used on the side plates” But those are huge! This suit going to weigh hundreds of pounds! “Well that’s why it’ll have wheels.” But how are you going to push it? How are you going to get it up the front stairs of each house in order to get candy? “I’m not.” Then how will you get candy? They’re not going to come and bring it to you, you know. “I’m won’t get any candy.” So you’re just going to spend your Halloween rolling a several hundred pound Dahlek suit up and down the street? “It’ll creep people out.

Now here’s the rub, the Daleks aren’t even his favorite. No, he much more fancies other villains. Villians with LEGS. Villains like the fore-mentioned Cybermen. And the Sontarans. And of course there’s the Judoon as well. Not to mention Captain Jack. Yes Whovians, I actually do know that Jack isn’t technically a villain. But you have to admit, he was sort of a self-serving ass at the beginning. And that’s not even the whole point. The whole point is that he wore CLOTHES. Just clothes. No ball joints glued to wood being required. No swivel seat and interior lighting either. And while he could still purchase the robot voice translator if he wanted to (available at either Vidler’s or Toys R Us), it wouldn’t be a necessity.

Now, although he discounted being the Doctor himself, because his favorite is David Tennent and “I’m much too short to be David” (also suggested was that he be an Adipose, but in the normal course of our family chats, this ended with him simply running about naked while waving at people, so the plan was quickly dropped), he could be any one of these other characters instead. Characters that could be created with simple cardboard, clothing and paint (being a given). Instead, he’s stuck on this whole Dalek thing.

I told him he had better start saving his money if he really wanted to pursue this. And if nothing else, that will be my saving grace. For he saves money about as well as I engineer. Even if the plan doesn’t come to pass (please Jesus, don’t let the plan come to pass…) I’m keeping the instructions he drew up. Not because they’re overly detailed and rather intense, but simply because they capture perfectly a bit of my youngest’ childhood whimsy.

12/7 conversations of Santa and Cybermen

The walk from my house to that of my parents is a scant six blocks. And while that’s a short enough distance when walked alone, when traversed with my three children, a great deal of conversational goop can accumulate well before the journey’s end. We went en mass this past Sunday to clear out my folks gutters from their leaves of Fall – a task that ended up being much more enjoyment than doldrum, much more bonding than chore. And within our brief walk over we discussed the following very important items of Christmas interest:

1. The flying sleigh of Santa is all a carefully laid-out ruse, set up by the man himself. He started the rumor long ago that had us all looking up, when we should have been looking down. In our shared brilliance we deduced that instead of flying across the globe, delivering toys through chimney, window and door, Claus actually has access to every house via sumps from each and every basement. That’s right – a web of catacomb-like underground trails connect us all to the pole of North, and the jolly man simply travels from hall to hall – from sump to sump – in delivering each package to each house while the residents within sleep unawares. It has to be the only plausible explanation. Even if they did exist, flying reindeer would NEVER be able to haul around not only themselves, but the sleigh and the loaded sacks – not mention the Man himself – through the sky as well. Not without some serious assistance from prevailing winds, or the hand of God holding them all up there at once in the wafer-thin air, that is.

2. As noted before, the tunnel travels take place with all of us being safely tucked away and none the wiser. Should however, some child wake to see the man of red unloading his bag, then they are quickly muffled, shuffled off and transformed (in a process very similar to that of the Cybermen of Doctor Who’s fame) into Christmas elves. That’s right, according to my children, elves are in fact formerly human children who, once seeing the truth of Santa’s existence, must be assimilated into becoming one his own – just to keep their mouths shut, and the secret safe. Now, i’m none too sure if it would be a wise thing to speak of this concept in an effort to get your young ones to sleep on Christmas eve – in that there might be the occasional daredevil who tries it simply TO become such an elf, but i’m pretty sure for the rest, it would only serve only to scare the living bejesus out of them.

3. Ninjas. Don’t ask me how this came about, but it did. Apparently all the elves, to the very last, is also a ninja. According to my first-born, the proof of the matter works something like this. “Do you know how you sometimes notice a hole in your wall, which looks like it could’ve been made with a nail, but you don’t remember ever placing a nail there? Well, that’s from an elf’s shuriken (throwing star).” Now, you may be wondering where he was going with that, but since i know him well enough to know that it could be a very difficult place indeed, i decided not to ask him to expound upon his theory, leaving you gentle reader, in the lurch (and probably a lot better off as a result, seeing as my first-born can take you into dimensions that you never knew – nor wanted to know – existed). My youngest, however, did take the opportunity to explain that the ninja theory had to be true, as there was no other way possible that children who see Santa could ever be corralled up to the North Pole without dispute. And he further proved his point by making random and Jerry Lewis-esque kicks into the air while the rest of us continued on our walk.

4. The conversation took a somewhat somber note as it began to dawn on some that – while even though the tunnel system saved numerous man-hours – it was still unlikely that Santa could ever get all the houses done in one night. Even considering that he did have a cushion of multiple time zones to play with. To my surprise, none of the children brought up the possibility of clones being used. And none brought up the idea that Santa might in fact be a large, octopus-like creature, who twirled out massive gift-laden tentacles that delivered all the presents of the world in one fail swoop. No, nothing so cool as that was mentioned. Instead, all three fell back on their Whovian (Doctor, that is) roots and came up with the idea that Santa was somehow allowed to stop time in order to get all the work that needed completion done. It was a solid idea, and sounded plausible to all, but there was some concern over where he would ever have obtained such a power from.

5. Being a dad always on the look-out for opportunities to pontificate my beliefs, and realizing that our walk was just about to come to an end, i used this turn of the conversation to both share my faith with the kids AND look like a dammed Smarty in the process by stealing an idea by C.S. Lewis. i stopped all three on the sidewalk leading up to my parents front door, and i told them that the only way Santa could circumvent time would be if God allowed it, and if He did, then that would mean that Santa was actually “above” time. The blank stares alerted me that an explanation was required even before they asked for one. Pointing to a seam in the sidewalk i told them to imagine that it represented time, and that the little leaves tucked within it were each a person, each to it’s own place in the line and each looking forward or back, but all being unable to move in either direction under their own will. i then told the kids to now look where they were in relation to that line at that moment – all of them being “above” it. And as a result, all of them able to move anywhere (or any time) along the line they wanted, as needs or desires dictated. This, i explained, is how i think God views time. And guessing that God might actually be a bit like i imagine him to be, i was pretty sure that he would also allow Santa to do pretty much the same.

To my knowledge, none of them have yet realized that i took the opportunity to turn an incidental conversation about Santa and Cybermen into a chance to teach them about my faith. And had i my druthers, i would hope that none of them do figure it out anytime soon, as i’m of the belief that the best lessons learned in life are the ones we never realize we were taught in the first place.

Just between you and me, i also hope that the idea about Cybermen elves isn’t true, seeing as i can think of three children (two at the least), near and dear to me who may very well be the type of “occasional daredevils” willing to try it on for size.

is Thankful…

that all three of my children take after C instead of me.

that all three of them are smart enough to realize that this is a good thing.

that while money is tight, food is on the table… and the table is under a roof.

that of all the things that broke this year, the CD player wasn’t one of them.

that C is a much stronger person than most anyone else i know.

that all three of my children still believe in Santa. Or at least do a pretty decent job at pretending…

that i had the pleasure of knowing some people i’ll most likely have to say goodbye to very shortly.

that i got to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends, all while not pissing off too many of my current friends.

that my older brother introduced me to “The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”.

that adversity can bring you closer together.

that even without ever meeting a person face-to-face, you can still build a solid and beautiful friendship with them.

that even in the digital age, you can still have pen pals.

that socks – if done correctly – can be so much more than mere footwear.

that two of my three children LOVE The Clash.

that, if asked, my third child will SAY she loves The Clash as well (even though she really doesn’t).

that you’re smart enough not to now ask me “who’s The Clash?”

that my eldest son joined his schools’ Gay Straight Alliance simply because “duh… it’s the right thing to do, daddy…!”

that adversity can make you stronger.

that while footy-pajamas are only made for children, the largest size available is still big enough for a small adult to fit in to.

that someone had the good sense to give the world Godzilla movies.

that the bulk of my problems are more imagined than real.

that someone invented a machine that – through the use of little red squiggly lines – tells us when we misspell something.

that at least SOME people realize that that is what those red lines are there for.

that i have JUST ENOUGH hair left that no matter what i do with it, it inevitably looks like a comb-over.

that the last time i lit candles, i actually had to go hunting around for a lighter instead of just reaching into my pocket.

that not ALL booze is “top shelf”.

that i no longer have to be burdened with being the tallest member of the family.

that someone had the good sense to stuff bread crumbs into the cavity of turkeys.

that it will be a very long time before computer-generated “customer care” phone answering services have the ability take over the world.

that Jesus gives me only what i need, instead of what i deserve.

that i had the good fortune of stumbling into this community, and that you are willing to share my somewhat disjointed and quite-oft poorly written world with me. The fact that you do means more to me than you’ll ever know – Thanks!

8/17 of pets and children

So, what is it that children and animals (besides the obvious of playing, eating, pooping and sleeping) actually need to do over the summer?

Now of the former, make no mistake – i will not go into a blustery blurb as to how much i wish i could relive those days. True, i did enjoy them greatly while i had them, but to revisit them now i feel might be a bit taxing. Of the latter, i have an idea. A really stupid and naive idea, but an idea none the less.

My youngest (by 11 years and 2 months) isn’t your average Christian (well, he’s not an average Anything really, but that’s a whole other tale). You see, while he’s down with the whole God/Jesus/Peace & Love thing, he also believes in reincarnation. I’m not quite sure how the two can coexist, but it’s not my faith – it’s his. He’s really the only one tasked with figuring it out in the end, and i can see that i’m quickly digressing to the point as to losing my point altogether…

His belief, combined with my almost aching desire to lead a “dogs life”, provided me with my idea, which was this. What if, when we die and go to heaven and are judged, God gives us one last “bonus round” on the earth – this time as the house pet of our choosing? i mean, it would seem viable from a numbers standpoint at any rate – there sure are a lot of house pets – almost as many as there are pet owners i would assume.

But you might be asking – how about those pets that are abused and mistreated while having their time on earth? How could that be considered an award of any kind? And you’d be right to ask (i know i did), but please keep in mind, when i said “judged” i was not implying “found worthy”. And it could be that a particular soul is very much in need of receiving a bit of their “own medicine” prior to being admitted into paradise.

Now before you come back screaming at me, please keep in mind – this is just a theory. A stupid and naive one at that. And i am not hoping to open any doors that would justify animal cruelty with it. But i also know that humans are cruel. To other animals and to each other. Instead of justifying it, we should be rectifying it. And screaming won’t help the process along.

So, the “dogs life” could be reward or punishment. Purgatory or – well – whatever the opposite of purgatory is. Or simply a chance to live life one more time – without worries. Without concerns. A chance to finally see the world, not through your eyes, but through those of God. Not as you think it should be, but as it really is.

As mentioned previously, i don’t feel the idea is very plausible based on the naive nature of it. But when i am dragging myself through the house at Dark O’clock in the morning in an effort to get myself out of the house and once again chase the cash – in hopes of ending up with a little bit of it in my pocket by days end – AND i happen to see my cat, lounging in the window with his “devil may care” attitude at the same time? Well, the theory becomes a lot more a hope than an idea.

Heck, sometimes the theory can almost become a prayer.

PS: remember – be good to your animals. Because it’s the right thing to do. And just in case i’m right.

8/10 Little Ms. Chatterbox

Words, words, words.

If you’re a lover of words – or at least the sheer quantity thereof – then you need to spend some time with my daughter. Taking the place of C last night, who was otherwise detained by work, my daughter spent the better part of an hour continually flapping her gums during our evening walk.

i won’t bore you with the details about what she talked about, because quite honestly, i’m pretty damned sure she covered every topic under the sun. She may have even mentioned you at some point.

All told, i think i might have been able to take up about 7 minutes of air time, but she covered the rest – with no commercial breaks. But don’t get me wrong – i’m not complaining.  Listening to her is much better than not.

Right before our walk, my oldest reminded me to “wear my ear plugs”. And how i wish i had to use the same advice with him. Unlike my daughter however, he is most decidedly mum on most points.  Even “i love you”s are acknowledged with mumbled “OK”s – if acknowledged at all. No need to ask that one how he’s doing either – both the ecstatic and the doomed are equally expressed with the same noncommittal monotone “OK”.

With both children “parenting” can be tricky. And by parenting, i mean keeping track of what’s going on in their lives and keeping up with how they feel about it. Whereas my son says almost nothing, my daughter says so much about any given subject, that you find yourself wondering, what exactly, she meant by all of it at the end.

In short, she’s going to be a Great sermon writer one day.

My youngest is probably the easiest to understand, but you might say that that is because of the three, he has it the easiest overall. Not being burdened with being “First Born”, he doesn’t feel the need to blaze any trails (so to speak), and not being a girl, he doesn’t feel the need to be, well, a girl (more to the point, a daddy’s little girl?). Of the three, i guess he gets to be – and feels most comfortable being – just him.

And the “him” that he is is a total nut case at times, engaging you in a topic that he himself forgets half way through the conversation. You’ll know it when it happens – his eyes turn sour, his lip curls down, and you can almost see the “wait… what were we talking about?” question practically sitting above his head like a cartoon cloud.

i can’t be sure if he feels most at ease because he is the youngest – and this just happens as a normal course of events – or if it’s because i made the bulk of my parenting mistakes on the first two. What i do know is that i love all three, each for their own qualities. Whether it be the mumbles, the incomprehensible insights or the verbal explosions of cascading words. Words, words, words.

Because whether they use a million words or just one, they fill my life with thoughts and feelings i never had before – maybe never would have had – had it not been for them being in my life in the first place. And while “love” itself is just another word, in this instance it has more meaning than i could ever express with any other.